With a total of 5,921 sq. miles and more than 400 miles of coast line, the Guanacaste tourism area comprises the Pacific Coast area from the border of Nicaragua to the Bongo River estuary in the Nicoya Peninsula. This tourism area is home to a very important section of Costa Rica’s cultural and natural heritage. This area boasts a significant number of protected areas including water, land, mountain, and coastal ecosystems that are teaming with life.
The incomparable beauty of its landscapes, which ranges from tropical dry forests to lowland mountain forests, its warm climate, as well as its flourishing nature have made Guanacaste one of the most heavily visited areas by locals as well as international tourists and is one of the most developed areas because of its high level of investment in the hotel industry that is in high demand. It also relies on important support by the Tourism Development Center of the Gulf of Papagayo and also relies on the Daniel Oduber International Airport through which arrive a number of charter and commercial flights from the United States.
All along the Guanacaste coastline are a number of beaches where you can swim in their warm Pacific Ocean waters. The coastal landscape is exceptional. There is an array of white-sand beaches and calm, intense-blue waters.
There are two commercial centers located in the northern area: Liberia and Santa Cruz, which, in turn, are linked with five important tourism development centers: Papagayo, El Coco, Flamingo, Conchal, and Tamarindo. In the southern area, the commercial center is Nicoya with Samara being the development center.
This is a beautiful beach with soft waves and a coastline full of vegetation as well as a beautiful ocean view with little islands scattered about. This place is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, rest and relaxation. You can also go hiking and take great photos.
This beach is part of the Baulas National Marine Park. Its name comes from its extensive beach, which extends south until the Tamarindo estuary where there is an important mangrove (Tamarindo Wildlife National Refuge) which can be traveled by boat to observe the flora and fauna. This beach is especially popular among surfers and those who want to observe the Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting area. This area is also good for sunbathing, hiking, and swimming. It carries the Blue Flag Ecological certification.
PLAYA BLANCA (FLAMINGO)
Es una ensenada de oleaje moderado apta para el baño. Cuenta con un manglar y al norte se hallan la isla Plata y la punta Salinas, las cuales separan a las bahías Brasilito y Potrero. Desde esta punta se disfruta de una espectacular vista de ambas bahías. Por su belleza escénica y natural, así como por los excelentes y variados servicios que posee, es ideal para quienes desean disfrutar de la playa durante el día y divertirse en la noche.
DANTA AND PAN DE AZÚCAR BEACHES
These beaches are two inlets less than a mile long and surrounded by hills from which you may observe a magnificent panorama of the Brasilito and Potrero bays. These are beaches with calm waters making it ideal for swimming. From Playa Danta, you can see the Pitahayas islets and the Santa Catalina Islands. The latter, which is some five miles out, is popular among divers.
This is an extensive beach with the Bolaños Islands directly in front of it, which can be reached by boat or kayak. During the windy months, it is a great place for windsurfing. It is also ideal for relaxation, hiking, and horseback riding, as well as exploring nearby areas by mountain bike.
This beach is located south of Brasilito, which is separated by a rocky headland (Punta Conchal), from which you can see a beautiful panoramic view of the beach and the entire coastline to the south. This inlet is about a mile longand gets its name from the fact that the beach’s sand is composed of millions of shell fragments. It is lined with lush vegetation, a mangrove, and crystal clear waters. It is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country and is ideal for swimming, hiking, horseback riding, boat excursions, and other water sports, including diving. This beach has been awarded the Blue Flag Ecological certification, which identifies it as a clean and safe beach.
PLAYAS DEL COCO
This is one of the most popular and traditional beaches in Costa Rica. It is located in a bay with soft waves and is very suitable for swimming and boat docking. Its grey sands extend almost a mile and a half. To the south there is the Centinela Islet where there is a cove with white sands. Playas del Coco has a wide range of recreational and sporting activities, including sport fishing, diving, boat excursions, etc. It is also ideal for hiking and horseback riding.
PLAYA CHOROTEGA (PANAMÁ)
This is a wide bay lined with fine sand. It is bordered mainly by the trees from Brasil, Manchineel trees and mesquite trees. The waters are calm and there is the Rocha estuary where there is a mangrove. It is a popular beach for swimming, relaxation, hiking, and camping. It is frequently visited by families that enjoy viewing the ocean scenery that extends to the white beaches on the other side where Culebra Bay is located.
This beach, along with Conchal, makes up the Brasilito Bay. It is a beach with waves that are soft to moderate, depending on the area. To the far south, there is a mangrove and the Loros Island. It is an ideal beach for sunbathing, swimming, hiking, watching the ocean and the beautiful sunsets.
PLAYAS BLANCA AND VIRADOR
The first is a beach with crystal clear water and soft waves located close to Punta Mala in Culebra Bay and along with other beaches belong to the Papagayo Gulf tourism project. From its coastline, which is some 3,000 ft. long, you can see the Monte del Barco and Chorotega beaches. Playa Blanca, with Playa Virador, located on the other side and just a few meters away forms a natural bridge that connects them to Punta Mala. Virador is a beautiful inlet with white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters, which are ideal for swimming and diving.
PLAYA BLANCA (FLAMINGO)
This is an inlet with moderate waves, which makes it suitable for swimming. There is a mangrove and to the north you can see Plata Island and Punta Salinas, which separates the Brasilito and Potrero bays. From here you can have a spectacular view of both bays. Because of its scenic and natural beauty, as well as its variety of high-quality services, it is ideal for those who want to enjoy the beach during the day, and party at night.
This beach is located 2 and a half miles south of Langosta. It has a rocky coastline that extends several miles and is lined with coastal vegetation. There are strong waves with two different areas that are good for surfing. Other activities include: hiking, swimming, and looking for little fish and mollusks in the tide pools during the low tide among the rocky areas.
FARALLÓN NATIONAL MONUMENT
Located on Las Lomas estate, El Farallón is an enormous rock wall, 60 ft. long, and full of indigenous engravings, which was declared a National Monument in 1998. The petroglyphs, according to studies, were created by indigenous people during the early years of the Christian era and 800 years before Christ.
In order to get there, you must enter Cañas and head to the Sandillal. From there the road gets a little treacherous and at certain places it is little more than a trail. Once on the estate, visitors will be welcomed by the López brothers, who will accompany you to El Farallón, located on the Cabuya River.
THE POPULAR BULL RING
In almost every town in Guanacaste, there are bull rings, where a popular activity is held, whereby riders try to stay on the bull as long as possible. Riders include men, young people, and sometimes even children.
Currently it is so popular that there is a riding championship where riders from all over the country participate.
LA LAGARTEADA (THE CROCODILE HUNT) IN ORTEGA, THE DISTRICT OF BOLSÓN. SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
For many years, and based on the local interest in crocodile fat, that, according to local tradition, has many curative qualities. It is held on Holy Friday, which is known as La Lagarteada, and is held in the Ortega community, in the Bolsón District. A group of men look for the largest crocodile possible along the Tempisque River on the Holy Friday and with ten to fifteen people, tries to capture it with a net (without killing it). Then they put it in a basin designed for this purpose in the center of Ortega for all to see. The following Monday, after Resurrection Day, they return it to its habitat. Along with the hunt, there are activities such as typical Guanacaste food and beverage sales.
NUESTRO SEÑOR DE LA AGONÍA CHAPEL
This picturesque chapel located in Liberia, in Los Cerros, at the end of the central avenue, represents typical Colonial architecture constructed in adobe, which are not very common in Costa Rica. The construction of the building dates back to 1850, and in 1866, they added bells. It has been declared a historical and architectural landmark.
ECO-MUSEUM OF THE ABANGARES MINES
The eco-museum is located on a 22 acre piece of land and is designed to receive visitors. You can see the Gunpowder House, the foundation of the hammer shops, the walls over which the train passed, the quarry, and the machines they used to mine and transport gold.
This is a historical site, both socially and economically, when Minor Keith was the owner of the Abangares Gold Field of Costa Rica. It is located in the Abangares Mountain Range and is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enter through Las Juntas.
FIELDWORKER AND COOK DAY AT THE SANTA ROSA RANCH
Celebrated in the Santa Rosa National Park on the second Sunday of November. A mass is held in honor of fieldworkers and cooks that work on the ranch. Afterwards, there is a bull run, and activities involving field work chores, food and music.
Liberia is known as the “White City,” it is a typical fishing town with wide streets, old buildings, and Bahareque homes.
This city is a combination of old structures, customs, and traditions with modern facilities and stores such as the malls and business services.
The last few years have seen urban development and new installations such as the Daniel Oduber International Airport, which receives commercial and charter flights from cities in Canada and the United States.
This is a place from where you can visit many different protected areas, among them are: the national parks of Santa Rosa, which is close to the small town of La Cruz, Rincón de la Vieja, or beaches around the Gulf of Papagayo.
You can also enjoy the Guanacaste National Band on Fridays and Sundays at 7 p.m.
Las Juntas is a town with cobblestone streets that is still used for gold mining endeavors. It has a variety of commercial sites. It is located 500 ft. above sea level and is a place to pass through to reach various attractions in the Monteverde area, among them being the Monteverde Biological Reserve, Santa Elena, and neighboring towns to Tilarán.
Among the more popular attractions is the Abangares Mines Eco-Museum, in the town’s park where you can see locomotives used for transporting gold.
Cañas is a town located in the plains and is tangent to the surrounding counties of Tilarán, Bagaces, and Abangares, and has commercial developments such as services and tourism businesses. It is 282 ft. above sea level and some of the more popular attractions are the Corobicí River, which is used by adventure tourists and naturalists to observe its flora and fauna, as well as the Pelado Volcano, and El Farallón archeological site.
CELEBRATING CULTURAL WEEK IN LIBERIA, THE WHITE CITY
Cultural Week is celebrated in Liberia, the White City, during the first week of September, which is also a remembrance of September 4, 1769, when Guanacaste was founded and September 3, 1836, when Liberia was established. The event has been held for 17 years by the Cultural Association, and every year has a different theme such as education, culture, and architecture. There is always music and dance activities; art from Guanacaste, and typical foods and drinks.
LLANOS DEL CORTÉS WATERFALLS
These are located a few miles north of Bagaces, off the highway to Liberia, where there is a turn off on the road to the left that leads to this place. These waterfalls are surrounded by lush vegetation and are 30 ft. high. Its cascading waters form a beautiful sheet descending into a pool where you can swim and also has a unique little white sand beach.
LIBERIA RIVER CANYON
A few miles from Liberia and on the road that leads to Santa María in the Rincón de la Vieja National Park, is a deep canyon formed by the Liberia River and it’s a very scenic location. From the canyon you can see the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano. The vegetation here is distinct from that of the lower areas.
MAIN STREET IN LIBERIA
The main street stretch, extending various blocks, north to south, from the central avenue in Liberia, is lined with ancestral homes and is part of the historic district. These historical constructions have been restored and give the city its identity, using adobe and bahareque materials as well as lime, which give them their white color.
This bay is well protected against the winds and has a beautiful mangrove, which is its main attraction. It is often frequented by fishermen who find in this area a safe place to to dock their boats and is teaming with marine wildlife.
TRADITIONAL PASSING OF THE NIÑO DIOS (CHILD JESUS) IN LIBERIA
This is a long held tradition, during which a number of people from Liberia venerate the Niño Dios (Child Jesus) statue belonging to the family of Valdelomar Baltodano. It starts with a drink made from chichia (fermented corn) and pinolillo (cornmeal and caco based drink) for those who want to participate and around 7 p.m. the figure is carried to the Nuestro Señor de la Agonía chapel, where a little portal is used to hold the figure to be admired.
Around 10 p.m., mass is held.
This river originates in the foothills of the Orosí Volcano and is about a hundred miles long. Some of its tributaries are the Colorado River, Salto River, Bebedero River, Bolsón River, Diriá River, and Cañas River. It is navigable and along the way you can see many species of birds that live within the mangrove along the banks. At the lower end of the river is the Palo Verde National Park.
This beautiful river located a few miles north of Cañas can be navigated by canoe. Its rapids are class I and II, which is ideal for anyone who is interested in this activity, during which you can enjoy beautiful scenery and observe many species of birds like herons and toucans. This is more or less the only river throughout the region with rapids.
DOORS OF THE SUN
In Liberia and other towns in Guanacaste, it is customary to build homes with two corner doors, which is an interesting feature and unique in Costa Rica. Because of their placement and purpose to let the sun in, they have been given the name, Doors of the Sun. The majority are found in the center of Liberia.
LA AMISTAD BRIDGE
In April 2003, this bridge was inaugurated in order to replace the ferry that was used for many years to cross the river. It is a very important engineering project, designed with the help of the Taiwanese government. It measures 2,550 ft. in length and serves as an important feature for the development of Guanacaste.
This inlet is located northeast of Playa Grande which is linked (and separated) by a rocky cliff that, because of its shape, has been named as such. This beach is suitable for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and hiking north to Carbón beach.
Tamarindo along with Playa Grande and Ventanas forms the Tamarindo Bay. It is a beautiful beach with many rocky areas and an island (Capitán) on the far southern end. It is lined with lush vegetation like, savannah oak, tamarind trees, and coconut trees. It has a variety of high quality services that allow you to enjoy the ocean during the day and party at night. This beach is ideal for relaxing, hiking, and turtle nesting observation. From this bay and to the south is a very popular coastal area for surfing. This beach is Blue Flag certified, meaning it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
Playa Real together with Roble (to the south) and Nombre de Jesús (to the north) make up one coastline. The first two are separated from the third by Punta Real. These are white sand beaches that together stretch a little over a mile long. The beautiful coastline scenery is accented by several islets and rocky points that make it even more attractive. The waves here are soft to moderate and are suitable for swimming, hiking, and other activities like ocean kayaking.
This is a soft-wave beach, which makes it ideal for swimming and relaxing under the shady trees that line the beach. You can also go hiking and is an excellent place to take pictures.
PLAYA PUERTO SOLEY
Located in the far northern region of Guanacaste in the beautiful and extensive Salinas Bay. It is a very popular beach among locals in the area from La Cruz. It has moderate waves and soft sands. It is famous for its sunsets and is good for hiking or simply admiring the majestic scenery of the bay, where the Bolaños Islands are located.
This is a small beach to the south of Pan de Azúcar, which is separated by a rocky area. Here you will find soft waves and an abundance of coastline vegetation. To the south are Punta Prieta and the Chocoyas Islet which adds a special touch to the surrounding landscape, and are separated by Playa La Penca.
This is a bay with calm waters and measures some 2 miles long. Here you will find estuaries and mangroves, as well as beautiful views. To the far south, you will find the Flamingo Marina (Blanca). This place is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, and water sports that are organized here: sport fishing and diving.
This is another small beach with moderate to strong waves. It has an estuary and a mangrove, which, along with the Chocoyas Islet in the far north, gives this beach a very special natural beauty for rest and relaxation. It is Blue Flag certified.
This is an inlet bordered by hills with grayish sands and calm waves. To the extreme south is Punta Cirial which is surrounded by crystal clear waters. This beach is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports like, diving and sport fishing, which are offered at different points throughout the region. From the peaks of the adjacent hills, there is a magnificent view of the Gulf of Papagayo. South of Ocotal is another smaller inlet known as Azul or Pez Vela Bay, which is popular for sport fishing. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This beach is located between Avellanas and Junquillal. In spite of its name, it has clear sand and a rocky coastline with excellent waves for surfing. To the south is another lesser known coastal area (Callejones) that is also good for surfing.
Located very close to the ferry dock, is a small beach with very little waves and lush coastline vegetation. Because of its location, this beach is ideal for relaxing and watching the marine scenery where you can also see Caballo Island, located 2 and a half miles beyond the coast. From Naranjo, you can hike, go horseback riding and mountain bike riding to other nearby points of interest.
The water here is clear with soft waves and is great for swimming, hiking, and diving. It is often frequented by tourists arriving by boat from nearby hotels and other water transport businesses. Its undeniable beauty makes Nacascalo a perfect little niche in the Northern Pacific for walking along the beach and observing the small estuary located to the far south.
PLAYA MONTE DEL BARCO
This small beach is located between two points that connect it and the surrounding beauty makes it ideal for relaxing and swimming. From the sides and top of the joining hills, you can catch a beautiful view of Culebra Bay, particularly during the sunsets. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This inlet is separated from Tamarindo by Punta San Francisco. There are two main areas that are divided by the mouth of the San Francisco River. To the north, the coast is rocky and not suitable for swimming. To the south, is the San Francisco Estuary, whose mangrove is an important place for bird nesting.
Playa Langosta is also an important site for the Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelyscoriacea) nesting and is part of the Las Baulas National Marine Park.
Hiking through both areas of the this beach is great for observing the scenery and its diverse species of birds. Langosta is also very popular among surfers. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This extensive and wide open beach has a mix of scenic views and is great for hiking and horseback riding. There are rocky areas and the waves are good for diving and surfing, for which it is well-known. There is also coastline vegetation and you can go fishing and kayaking. This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
This is a beautiful and protected inlet with very little waves. It has gorgeous scenery because of its coastline vegetation. It is ideal for swimming, relaxing, and meditating, as well as enjoying other activities like bird watching and observing the flora.
This is a beautiful beach located at the back of Culebra Bay. It is bordered on the far north and south by rocky tips. To the south, flows the Grande Stream which empties into the Iguanita Estuary, forming an intricate mangrove.
This bay is around a mile long and has grayish sands. It is located between two rocky tips. To the south and facing Punta Cacique are the Pelonas and Montosa Islands. The waves here are very small with an abundance of coastline vegetation. It is great for swimming, sunbathing, watching the sunsets, and water sports, including diving, hiking, and horseback riding.
This beach carries the Blue Flag certification, meaning, it has been recognized for its cleanliness and safety.
PLAYAS SAN MIGUEL AND COYOTE
The access road that connects these beaches runs along the San Miguel Hill, from which there is an impressive view of the open coast. Both beaches belong to the same coastal area, but they are separated by La Jabilla river mouth and estuary, forming an extensive mangrove. The waves of these beached are strong and consistent. San Miguel is a mile and a half long while Coyote stretches two and a half miles up to the estuary with the same name. This coastline is great for small boat rides, relaxing, watching the ocean, hiking, horseback riding, as well as observing the flora and the fauna among the mangroves.
This is a bay that measures a few miles long with moderate waves. There are mangroves and coastline vegetation: Manchineel trees, coconut trees, and vine plants like the frijol de playa (beach bean), etc. In the center of the beach is a large old strangler fig tree for which Sámara is recognized. To the far south and facing Punta Indio is Chora Island.
Sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, mountain biking, boat rides or ocean kayaking, are just some of the activities this beach provides, as well as, tourist services that make for enjoying the beach during the day and music and good food at night. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is a small horseshoe-shaped bay with soft waves. The surrounding coastline is very beautiful and you can see the Palmitas Islands (Huevos).
PLAYAS PLEITO AND SAN JUANILLO
These small little inlets are abundant with coastal vegetation. Both are linked by a rocky surface that joins Punta Trinidad and Punta Pleito. The later, on its far southern end has a small bend, which is ideal for swimming. On the other hand, San Juanillo has a unique little tip (Trinidad), which has waves of fine sand that form a small cove with calm waves. It extends south several hundred feet creating Cocal Beach.
At the far north end is Punta Nosara, which separates this last beach. It is great for hiking and relaxing. At the southern end is a rocky point, where you can catch a beautiful panoramic view of the beach and Playa Guiones, which is to the south. Here you can go hiking, horseback riding, sunbathing, and do sport fishing and snorkeling.
This an extensive and wide open beach with strong waves that is connected on its southern end to Nosara, which is separated by División. This beach is internationally known because here and in Nancite (San Rosa National Park) is where the largest number of Olive Ridley sea turtles come to nest, especially from July to November. That’s why this beach and the entire coast to the south until Punta Guiones belong to the Ostional Wildlife Refuge. The most scenic part of this beach is located toward the north along the rocky coast.
This beach has a beautiful estuary and a large mangrove (Nosara River) that can be navigated by boat and kayak in order to observe its flora and fauna, especially birds. In the town of Nosara and surrounding areas there are all kinds of tourist services, including horseback riding and kayaking.
PLAYA LAGARTO · PLAYA PITAHAYA
This coastal area has rocky beaches to the north (Lagarto, Manzanillo) and sandy beaches to the south. On the north end, Lagarto is known for its fishing industry. This stretch of coastline is beautiful, but very few services for tourists. On the south end, there are beaches like, El Coco, Marbella, and Pitahaya, where you can go hiking and swimming. In Pitahaya, at the far northern end, there is a beautiful inlet. These beaches are frequented by surfers because of their waves.
This is a half moon-shaped inlet with soft waves. Its name comes from a small rocky islet adjacent to Punta Islita on the far north end of the bay. There are two estuaries that add to its beautiful landscape, which can be seen in full from the high part of the road that runs south to Corozalito, where you can also see high cliffs. Some activities that you can do here are swimming, sunbathing, hiking, horseback riding, four wheeler tours, mountain biking, and boat rides for fishing and diving. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is an extensive and wide beach and is great for hiking and horseback riding, sunbathing, and surfing, because of its adequate waves. Close to this beach and other beaches toward the north, you can find a variety of services for tourists.
This is a beautiful bay with moderate waves. To the south is an estuary where the Garza River empties into the ocean forming a mangrove; to the north and on the other side of Punta Garza, is a rocky beach called Rosada, due to the color of its sand. Garza is a small fishing town where you can sunbathe, swim, hike, and go on sport fishing tours.
This little beach has a large estuary and mangrove, which is great for observing flora and fauna. It is visited by tourists arriving on horseback.
This beautiful bay is located 2 and a half mile from Sámara. It has a beautiful beach with calm waves, and is very safe for swimming, sunbathing and hiking, especially on the southern end where the beach runs parallel to the road. There are a number of coconut trees that provide shade to visitors and make the coastline attractive. At the southern end, there is a rocky hill from which you can view the entire bay. Surrounding this point is a bay that is used as a docking area for sport and commercial fishing boats. It carries the Blue Flag certification.
This is a wide open beach and a mile and a half or so long with moderate to strong waves. At the far end is the mouth of the Ora River, which you must wade across, with caution, to the other side to get to this and other beaches to the south (Islita, Bejuco, San Miguel) or to the north (Carrillo, Sámara). Camaronal is known for Leatherback and Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting. There is a wildlife refuge here that protects these creatures. This area is also good for camping and fishing.
PLAYA BUENA VISTA
This is an extensive beach with moderate waves and coastline vegetation. To the far north is an estuary and to the south is the mouth of the Buena Vista River. This area is great for sunbathing and hiking. In some areas of its coast, there is a slightly steep slope. From here, small engine plane rides are organized.
This is an extensive beach that is located south of Coyote. It is wide open and several miles long. To the far north, is an area called Caletas that is great for surfing. From this later area, 2 and a half miles south, is the mouth and estuary of the Bongo River whose river bed marks the border between Guanacaste and Puntarenas. A mile and a half further south of this point is Playa Manzanillo, which is beautiful and full of vegetation. This beach is often frequented by locals from Cóbano and other surrounding towns. Here you can rent horses, go hiking, enjoy the ocean, go boating, kayaking, and camping.
This is a wide-open beach. Its waves are moderate to strong. It has an extensive mangrove that runs from the beach to the mouth of the Bejuco River. To the far south, is Punta Bejuco, which adds to the paradise - like - beauty of this beach that is frequented by surfers.
PLAYA BARCO QUEBRADO
This is a beautiful inlet with moderate waves. It is surrounded by rocky cliffs that make the area especially attractive. This beach is ideal for swimming and taking in the scenery which is largely made up of forest area. To the south of Barco Quebrado is another attractive beach called Barrigona.
This is a smaller beach with strong waves and deep blue waters. In the center toward the north is a rocky hill (Punta Eriza) from which there is a great view of the entire coast that runs north to south until Punta Trinidad (San Juanillo). This area is great for hiking, or taking in the scenery. Swim with caution, especially on the southern end.
Guanacaste is known for its music, which is the most popular form of artistic expression in the province. Music is an important element to be respected and admired. Music is considered a natural gift in those from Guanacaste.
Along with music, typical dances from Guanacaste have been preserved over time through oral tradition. These are the truest representation of what the social and cultural like was like in Guanacaste. These dances are heavily influenced by Andalucian Flamenco (Spain). Some of the traditional dances are: El Punto Guanacateo, Los Amores de Laco, La Cajeta, la Flor de Caña, El Torito, El Zapateado, El Pavo, and La Botijuela, among others.
Corn is an important crop in Guanacaste. There are many typical dishes and beverages derived from this product: Guanacaste tortillas, tanelas, tayuyas, tamales (Costa Rican style), pisque, sweet tamal, corn rice, nacatamales (Nicaraguan style), rosquillas, bizcochos, pozol, chicheme, chichia, pinol, among others.
In many homes there is a mud oven, where all types of breads are prepared and meals re-heated.
It is important to understand how the food is made, such as rice corn which is made with white corn, soaked, and then ground the traditional way, by hand, in los metates (flat stones in the shape of a table with a wheel of the same size used to ground corn), now it is done with machines, cooked with pig fat, spices, and chicken broth, using only yellow corn.
You can try typical beverages like el pinol, which is made from finely ground white corn and toasted on a ceramic plate.
La chicha de maíz is a beverage prepared in different ways depending on the region of Costa Rica. In Guanacaste, it is made browning and grinding corn, then adding plenty of pallaston (roughly ground corn), panela, and ginger. It is stored in ceramic jars and left to ferment for two or three days.
El chicheme is one of the most nutritious and popular drinks for parties and church gatherings. It is a hot corn drink that is left to ferment naturally, then sugar, ginger, and water are added and cloves are ground in.
You can find these popular dishes and beverages in busy areas like markets in Liberia, Nicoya, and the famous Women’s Cooperative in Santa Cruz.
COLONIAL CHURCH IN SAN BLAS
This beautiful church is located in the center of the town of Nicoya and it is located on the same site where the first parish was established in Costa Rica in 1544. On the inside, is a small historical/religious museum. Next to the church is a beautiful city park, which serves as a meeting place for locals and foreigners. Patronage festivals are celebrated every year on the 15th of December.
SANTO CRISTO DE ESQUIPULAS PATRONAGE FESTIVAL
The Christ image in the town of Santa Cruz was brought from Guatemala in 1840. The celebration goes through different stages: La Víspera (The Eve), on January 13th, is when the Christ of Esquipulas is carried from Arado to a house in the outskirts of Santa Cruz, where it is prepared for the 14th, in the evening. Neighbors get ready to go to observe the Christ image and from there starts the procession of devotees. The streets through which the Christ image is carried are adorned with palm trees branches, malinche flowers, and colorful ticker tape.
Festivities: January 15th is the Patron Saint Day, which is celebrated by a procession through Santa Cruz, made up of promesano indigenous people, the Traditional National Queen and her court, the local priest and devotees. There is a mass held in the church in honor of the saint.
In addition to this event held January 14th through the 18th, there are cultural presentations: traditional dances, Marimba (type of xylophone) and typical Guanacaste music, plays, poetry readings, “retahílas” (tirade) and “bombas” (traditional folkloric songs), all with the flavor that is typical of the locals of this community that are proud to carry on their traditional folklore. Along with these events are sales of local arts and crafts and souvenirs related to these Santa Cruz festivities that are held mainly in La Plaza de los Mangos, where a ring is constructed for bull riders, and also in Bernabela Ramos Park, where other cultural events are held.
NUESTRA SEÑORITA LA VIRGEN DE GUADALUPE FESTIVAL ·LA YEGUITA·
The Virgen de Guadalupe festival is held over a series of phases, which are: November 1st, the “contadera de dias” (the Countdown) and the Pica de Leña (local men chop the finest wood to be used in a bonfire in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe) on the 8th of Dicember. Then there is the Molienda de Maíz (Corn Grinding), “Pujagua,” on the 9th of December. After that is the “La Atolada” on December 10th, followed by “La Ramada” on December 11th. Finally “La Víspera” on December 12th: La Virgen de Guadalupe Day.
This final day begins at five in the morning, at dawn. On this day, as well as the previous day, there is music, fireworks, and food in the house of the Patron Saint from Alba. At 9 a.m. mass is held in the new church. Before 10 a.m., a procession begins, which is followed by the traditional La Yegüita dance.
At 6 p.m., a ceremony is held for the new staff members of the Brotherhood the following year. This meeting is held in the local Brotherhood residence. When electing new members, the women, not the men, are the ones who vote.
Santa Cruz is the heart of national folklore, due to its keen interest in maintaining traditions and customs such as typical dances, musical instruments, typical food and beverages. There is a cozy and well-maintained park. The city also offers a variety of commercial and public services.
There are a variety of natural tourist attractions such as beautiful beaches like Ostional, Blanca (Flamingo), Tamarindo, and Grande.
Over the last few years, tourism development has grown significantly along the coastal area where a number of important lodging facilities have been constructed along with a range of services and activities like golf ranges.
According to studies, Nicoya is one of the oldest cities in the country and the heart of the Chorotega ethnic group. The layout of the city is well organized with parks, a catholic church, and various commercial sites, such as the local market where typical food and beverages are sold. It is located 400 ft. above sea level and over the years has seen much urban development. It is suitably developed for tourist and also has an important health center.
It is a must see place on the way to beaches like Sámara and Carrillo and with the opening of the La Amistad bridge, travel time has been reduced.
JULY 25TH CELEBRATIONS
On this date, the annexation of Nicoya from Nicaragua to Costa Rica in 1824 is celebrated. This day is a national holiday, but is more celebrated throughout Guanacaste, particularly in Nicoya and Liberia.
ARTS AND CRAFTS FROM GUAITIL AND SAN VICENTE
The locals from Guaitil de Santa Cruz and San Vicente de Nicoya (towns with more than 5,000 years of traditional ceramic work), created beautiful ceramics from clay with traditional techniques from the Chortega indigenous people that lived in this area. Some of the pieces that they create are: ornaments, jars, flower pots, vases, plates, ocarinas (a musical instrument), and other figures. For the drying of these wonderful ceramic works, they use traditional ovens. You can purchase these ceramic works in the towns where this activity is the main livelihood of the locals. This beautiful tradition is passed down from family to family, and even taught in the elementary school in Guaitil. Here the students learn the techniques and create beautiful pieces that are also sold to visitors.
There are many different kinds of tourist activities being developed related to relaxation, heath, culture, adventure, and nature, as well as sport and recreational activities.
There are many types of activities that can be done in the aforementioned areas. Here is a brief description of a few:
Due to the climatic conditions of Guanacaste, the rich flora and fauna, as well as many natural, cultural and architectural landscapes, photography is a popular activity among tourists.
Sport fishing is one of the main attractions in the Northern Pacific, whether it is commercial or recreational. There are also tournaments where various world records have been broken for long-nose fish which are returned to the sea.
OBSERVING ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORICAL SITES
There are sites and buildings of important architectural and historical significance as well as national monuments that are considered “must see” in Abangares, Bagaces, Cañas, Liberia, and Santa Cruz.
Bird watching is mainly in the protected areas like Palo Verde, Curú, Bolaños Island, and Tenorio. These are the most important, but there are other sites where you can enjoy this activity.
Typical towns are characterized by small diners, cafeterias, or restaurants, where you can enjoy Guanacaste cuisine. Cañas, Tilarán, Liberia, as well as Santa Cruz are known for their traditional dishes and beverages.
ADVENTURE IN THE CANOPY
There are a few options to enjoy activities that take place in the canopy, where you can see a number of monkey and bird species.
PURCHASING LOCAL ARTS AND CRAFTS
Arts and crafts in Guaitil de Santa Cruz and San Vicente de Nicoya are made from pure clay, following traditional techniques used by the Chorotega indigenous people. They create ornaments, jars, flower pots, vases, plates, ocarinas (a musical instrument) and other pieces. You can purchase these items in a number of locations throughout Guanacaste. You can also purchase bowls made from the Typha plant which is also used for various types of paper products.
The area has a number of picturesque trails, adventure or leisure sitesfor road or mountain biking. Some of the trails have views of the beach and mountains.
There is no limit to the number of hiking trails in the area where you can take in many different natural, architectural, cultural, religious, and commercial attractions.
Because Guanacaste is mainly a rural area, this activity can be done all over in coastal areas, communities, or mountain areas. Horseback riding tours are done through tourism businesses or family estate owners that rent horses.
This activity can be done for recreation or adventure and is growing in Guanacaste due to the excellent sites with great diving conditions. There are specialized businesses that provide this service. Some of the more noteworthy areas are the Gulf of Papagayo and the Santa Catalina Islands.
RURAL TOURISM SERVICES AND ACTIVITIES
With respect to rural tourism, here are some activities and services offered and their locations within the northern Pacific:
Bolsón Eco-tourism, located in the Bolsón community, offers a number of housing services in Ortega and Bolsón, with families prepared to receive tourists.
Activities: Excursions along the Tempisque River and through the Palo Verde National Park where you can observe crocodiles, birds, and monkeys, among other species.
Located in Santa Bárbara de Santa Cruz, next to the school, is the Casa del Sol, which is a project that relies solely on solar energy.
Activities: Here you can try food prepared only with solar energy.
Throughout the year, there are community activities that celebrate historical, religious, sporting, civil, or artistic aspects.
10. Patron Saint festival. Santo Cristo de Esquipulas. Santa Cruz.
Last weekend of the month. Community festivals in Liberia.
Holy Friday. “La lagarteada” in Ortega de Bolsón. Santa Cruz.
25. Nicoya Chorotega Tourism Expo-fair and the Expo-Liberia-Guanacaste.
25. Annexation of Nicoya
1. Pilgrimage to Cartago
2. Virgen de los Ángeles Day
24. National Park Day
7. Cultural Week, Liberia, White City
On the second Sunday. Savannah workers and Cooks Day at the Hacienda Santa Rosa.
11-12. Nuestra Señorita la Virgen de Guadalupe Festival. Nicoya.
24. Christ child image passing from the house of the Valdelomar Baltodano family to the Nuestro Señor de la Agonía chapel. Liberia.
MIRAVALLES VOLCANO PROTECTED AREA
The main attraction of this protected area is the volcano, which measures 6,500 ft. above sea level and is located in the Guanacaste volcano range, in the county of Bagaces. There are hot springs in the foothills that can be enjoyed in a spa located in Guayabo. Likewise, there are fumaroles that can also be visited. There are a number of beautiful waterfalls like Cabro Muco. There is also another waterfall located near the high school in La Fortuna as well as various lagoons. This area is also the location of the only geothermal energy plant in Costa Rica.
LOMAS DE BARBUDAL BIOLOGICAL RESERVE
This reserve is located north of Palo Verde and is notorious for its large number of insect species, which makes it a key area for entomological research. There are also various habitats where you can observe savannahs, wet forests, gallery and deciduous forests. There are also rivers with pools which are suitable for swimming. There are a large number of tree species that are known as Yellow Bark, that, during the dry season especially in March, flourish throughout the area. Howler and white-faced monkeys, as well as deer and many types of birds are just some examples of the fauna that thrives in Barbudal.
JUNQUILLAL BAY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
This is an area known for its dry forests where there are a number of trees from Guanacaste such as the rain tree and the gliricidia. There are also various types of mangroves including black, red, and salt water. Some of the animals you can see here are: red howler monkeys, howler monkeys and white-faced monkeys, white-tailed deer, iguanas, etc. There are trails and camping and picnic grounds, restroom facilities, public telephones, and other services. The Junquillal Bay is the main attraction, although the refuge also has other bays, such as Jicote, Cuajiniquil as well as the Los Muñecos Islands.
BOLAÑOS ISLAND NATIONAL ANIMAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Located in Salinas Bay, this island measures some 50 acres and its highest point is 265 ft. It is a rocky crag whose most significant feature are its marine birds like the magnificent frigate bird and the brown pelican.
TENORIO VOLCANO NATIONAL PARK
This park is located in the volcanic mountain range in Guanacaste and has various forest types like lowland mountain rain forests, tropical wet forest, and very moist premountaine forest. Its highest point measures 6,289 ft. above sea level. Some of the more prominent plant species are palm trees, ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. Some of the animal wildlife that you will see here are howler and white-faced monkeys, anteaters, pumas, tapirs, and peccaries. Some of the bird species are trogons and three-wattled bellbird. This area has a park, potable water, restrooms, lodging for researchers, an information desk, trails, and lookout points for your convenience. These attractions as well as the hot springs are located close to the administration area along the Misterios del Tenorio trail. Here, you can swim in the sky blue waters of the river and take in the natural surroundings of the park.
SANTA ROSA NATIONAL PARK
There are two areas: Murciélago and Santa Rosa, aptly named. The former is located in the northern part of the Santa Elena Peninsula. Here, there are various beaches, such as the Hachal, Danta, Coquito, Santa Elena, and Blanca. There is parking close to the administration area, along with a picnic area, restrooms, potable water and a camping area. There is also a lookout point and trails.
The Santa Rosa Park is home to the most important dry tropical forest in Central America. There are a variety of species in this forest like the white-tailed deer, howler and white-faced monkeys, etc. There are also two beaches: Naranjo and Nancite. Here you will find camping grounds in the first beach and in the later, which is used as a biological station, is where the Olive Ridley sea turtle nests. This area also has historical importance because of the Santa Rosa Battle that was fought here.
There are also many trails and lookout points, as well as other places of interest: the Monument to the Heroes from 1856 and 1955, the historical house, which was completely rebuilt in 2002.
RINCÓN DE LA VIEJA NATIONAL PARK
This national park is made up of the massif where the Rincón de la Vieja Volcano is located. It measures 31,000 acres. There are two areas: Las Pilas and Santa María. There are nine cones all together and a lagoon called La Jilgueros.
Pailas Area: trails (4 miles long) to the Von Seebach craters (6,200 ft. above sea level) and Rincón de la Vieja (6,000 ft. above sea level) trail to Las Pailas (1.5 miles), trail to the La Cangreja Waterfalls (3 miles) and Escondidas (2 miles), trail to Río Blanco well(2,000 ft.), trail to the fumaroles and mud pits.
Santa María area: trail to the Encantado (Enchanted) Forest waterfall (3500 ft.), trail to Pailas area (4.5 miles), trail to Las Pailas de Agua Fria (5,200 ft.), trail to hot springs (1.5 miles). Around the administration area there are restroom services and picnic areas, as well as a camping area. There is also a historical house and a mill. You can access the park on the Buenos Aires de Upala side.
LAS BAULAS NATIONAL MARINE PARK AND THE TAMARINDO NATIONAL WILDLIFE RESERVE
Both wildlife areas are located around the playa Grande area and in the Tamarindo Estuary, however, it also belongs to other areas like Playa Carbón, Ventanas, and Langosta, the Morros and Hermoso Hills as well as the San Francisco and Ventanas Mangroves. The park’s main attraction is the Leatherback Sea Turtle nesting, which is the largest such nesting ground in the world, and the sea turtle itself is an endangered species that is protected in Costa Rica.
Within the refuge, the main attraction is the mangrove with full grown trees. The most common mangrove types are: red, black, white, and tea. These mangrove forests are an optimal place for fish, crustaceans, and mollusks to thrive. You can also see reptiles, amphibians, and birds.
There are tours to observe the Leatherback sea turtle nesting and to explore the Tamarindo Estuary.
GUANACASTE NATIONAL PARK
This park is around 70,000 acres and is home to the Orosí and Cacao Volcanoes, which are its main attractions. There are three main areas: Maritza, Pitilla, and Cacao, which are described below:
The Marita area measures 2,132 ft. above sea level in the foothills of the Orosí Volcano. There is a transitioning wet to dry forest, springs, and ravines. There are a variety of birds and a large collared peccary population. Available services include: potable water, restrooms, trails, and an information center.
The Pitilla area is located less than a mile from La Cruz. Its primary resource is rainforest. Along the trails you can see birds and other animals as well as a spectacular view of Lake Nicaragua.
The Cacao area is located in the foothills with the same name and measures 3,600 ft. above sea level. There are trails that connect the transitioning dry to wet forests with the cloud forest. Also, with prior permission, you can scale to the top of the volcano.
DIRIÁ NATIONAL PARK
This park is located in Santa Cruz and is home to a system of wetlands and more than 3,000 acres of forest. Two-thousand feet up are primarily Evergreen species, with moss and giant bromeliads.
OSTIONAL NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Ostional was established as a refuge in order to protect the Olive Ridley sea turtle nesting grounds in this area of the coast, the largest area extends from La Roca to the Ostional Estuary.
In addition to the Olive Ridley sea turtle, which nests here all year round, the Leatherback and Green sea turtle also nest in Ostional, but only from September to February.
Occasionally, the Hawksbill turtle comes here as well. The Olive Ridley sea turtle deposits more than 100 eggs along the refuge’s shoreline. Once a year, a phenomenon occurs known as the arrival of the Olive Ridley sea turtle between September and November. For three to six days, they arrive to the refuge in large numbers to deposit thousands of eggs. In order to rationally take advantage of this resource, in Ostional a law exists that permits the extraction of some eggs for commercial purposes. This legal activity is coordinated along with the Ostional Development Association. There are also tours with local guides to observe the sea turtles.
BARRA HONDA NATIONAL PARK
This park is located around 12 miles northeast of Nicoya. It measures some 5,000 acres and protects an important geological resource, which is a system of caves with stalactite and stalagmite formations. The Barra Honda Peak is 1,476 ft. high and is made up of old coral reefs that were pushed up by tectonic faults. With respect to the caves, 19 have been discovered. The Terciopelo cave is open to the public because it is the easiest to access. The stalactites and stalagmites are the result of calcium carbonate dissolution coming into contact with water and produces this chemical reaction. The area provides a park, potable water, restrooms, lodging, an information center, trails, and lookout points where you can take in the scenery of the Tempisque River.